Thursday, June 25, 2015

Riley? Shannon?

I guess I might as well share a little bit of humor to begin this post. Yesterday I had a modeling gig, so I got up, showered, washed my hair, did other things that I hate doing, etc. Then when I got out of the shower, I started putting lotion on (which may be of value to mention that the primary reason I was even putting lotion on was because I'm burnt - bad - and peeling like crazy - not because I enjoy nurturing my body :P). Then, I realized that I still had hairy legs. I thought, "do I really have to get back in the shower-tub and shave? I'm going to a modeling thing, yes, but... Most the time I have pants on anyway, but crap, this is a fitness shoot, so I'll likely be in yoga shorts. Ah crap, back in the tub we go..." My mom thought it was funny enough to give you all a laugh.
     Now, to the purpose of the post. Many people ask me "What do you want me to call you now; Riley, or can I still call you Shannon?" The answer is much more complicated, but let's say both, either, depends. Let me explain. First let's see if I can tell you exactly what I told my 6 year old nephew. The reason why I decided to go by Riley is because after the accident my brain makes much slower, stupider, decisions. That is not who Shannon is. So I don't want people to correlate Shannon with who I have become because of the TBI. I guess the biggest influence in all of this has been my loss of everyone who loved Shannon before the accident. If nothing else, I want those people to stop correlating the person who they knew and loved with the person that they see now.
    Both? How does that work? Well, I've decided that to the general public, (again I'm not legally doing anything) my last name will be Shannon. So if you call me Shannon, it will be like you know me professionally, or from the army or something like that, no worries. Either? I would like to be known as Riley - at least to new people - specifically peers - but I am not upset at all if you call me Shannon. I will address later some other reasons why I would love if you call me Riley though. Depends? This is vital. If you have ANY ill feelings towards me, anything that just kind of gets under your skin, please, PLEASE call me Riley. I WILL NOT be offended, I promise. Besides, I won't know why you are making the effort to call me Riley; I won't know if it's for this reason or for other reasons (like what I will mention below). There is a difference for the people who know my spirit - the true me, for those people, it genuinely doesn't matter what you call me in the slightest. But, Shannon L Blackham was a much higher person than having people hate who she is, and I'm sick and tired of allowing the TBI to take that away from her. So I ask you to associate who I am today with the name Riley, because technically Riley is "Shannon affected by a TBI." And moving forward, I will always be affected by a TBI, whether it shines as Shannon or as a complete jerk, I'm being affected by a TBI.
     The hardest thing is for me to see myself as a different person. But especially when I am a total jerk, I am a different person - because of the TBI. I am a different person when it comes to my abilities. It is hard as heck that I can't do so many of the things that used to be automatic before the accident, but truth is that I can't. I need to accept that and move forward. I can't graduate with a Bachelor's degree in 3 years with an A average like I had always planned. I can't even read music anymore let alone play marimba at the state competition level. I can't even join a men's football team like I had always planned! :) The idea of Riley is to stop comparing myself to what I used to be. I used to tell everyone, don't compare yourself to other people, only compare yourself to what you could do yesterday. But now my yesterday is always going to be before the accident - hopefully until I make the change inside myself to Riley. As Riley, I think I might want to try a bunch of things again; things that have been too difficult because of how much I remember I used to be able to do them. So as much as I want to transition to Riley for the appearance towards other people, it's just as much for myself. The transition to Riley is a stepping stone for progress and success. It's hard to view yourself as someone different when everyone continues calling you to the past. This is why I would like you to call me Riley.
    But, once again, let me reiterate that I will NOT get upset if you call me Shannon! When introducing me specifically, I would love if you would introduce me as Riley. But even if you call me Shannon, it's my new last name anyway, so who cares! I feel very strongly about both - being called Riley and keeping the name Shannon - so it honestly doesn't matter. ~~Riley Shannon~~
P.S. Please vote on my hair!


  1. Dear Shannon,
    I am one of the ones who knows you best and sees the greatness in you both before and after the accident. While there are some differences in your abilities and characteristics, the core, fundamental, wonderful person that I have been privilidged to know your whole life is still someone that I admire and enjoy being with. You have made a lot of progress in managing the affects of the TBI and I am confident that will continue. Sometimes when I get discouraged that the progress is slower than any of us would like, I remember days in the hospital when you could not stand on your own or take a step on your own or couldn't eat on your own or couldn't write a recognizable word. The things you are able to do are remarkable and we all need to remember how miraculous all of this is. That being said, I like the concept of Riley and the way it allows you to reset expectations and move forward without the burden of trying to measure up to what your view is of what you would have done without the TBI. So I love Shannon and I see the greatest in her, both in the past an now. And I love Riley with all the promise and hope for the future, despite the challenges that life's circumstances have put in her path. Most important is that you are my precious daughter and I love you so very much.

    Your Dad

  2. Dad, you are so eloquent in your words. I feel the same way but I can't articulate as well as that so I'll just say Ditto... To what dad said... except "sister" instead of "daughter" :-)
    Love you sis!
    Riley or Shannon... You're still my mini me! Lol

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